As we wind down, I want to reflect on the semester and ask that you do the same. In this first post, I want to highlight the ways I’ve organized the course, encouraged our conversations, and facilitated your research. And here’s a second post which speaks more to content—what I’m thinking about in terms of WAC+Transfer as I look forward to my continued research.
I thought our in-class conversations improved steadily throughout the semester as we built background knowledge and gained a common vocabulary to talk about WAC and transfer. It also helped, more than I expected, that I learned about the many relevant projects you all were already engaged in at Purdue. I think our ability to integrate your other work into our conversations, however limited, helped us make connections between the material and our own research and teaching.
Your semester projects are great. I’m very pleased with the diversity, both the form and the content. I think the not-seminar-paper structure is working very well. You all cover a wide range of material in WAC and transfer, across diverse areas of our field, and even reaching into other disciplines. I’m seeing the interesting beginnings of bridges between fields, both in the abstract (for example, exploring the ways two disciplines relate) and tied to local contexts at Purdue. I’m also seeing lots of conversation which is looking forward to future work, and that’s the goal, so I’m excited not only about this semester but hoping I can help you all in the future.
The jury is still out on the Explainer projects, but only because I haven’t seen a lot of concrete drafts yet. Those I’ve reviewed are very impressive. My conversations at CCCC confirm my desire to push this sort of project forward future, perhaps in partnership with other universities. I’m thinking not only of more content-related issues, but specifics in terms of delivery, conceptualizing audiences, developing processes. (Maybe I need a third post to talk about this.)
I hope my comments on your projects and other work helped you think about the issues at work in both your projects. I worked pretty hard to make sure it was timely and I tried to use my notes from class to understand your work in its complexity (how you developed more group-based ideas from class into larger projects). If you thought my commentary on work was (not) helpful, I’d like to hear more in evaluations.
I see three big things to fix. First and foremost, I wasn’t able to finish my course prep before the semester. I know this was, at best, inconvenient, and at worst, restricted your ability to read on your own schedule. This was simply a time issue on my part, having a full plate in my first year. I’m already working on courses for next fall and spring, so this won’t happen again.
Secondly, some of you got behind on the reading for your semester projects. I will be seeking ways in the future to ensure that doesn’t happen. I elected to keep individual work minimal during the semester, for simplicity’s sake, but may change that in the future. (Remember the elevator pitches we did? For example, asking you to return to those, and making them more a part of the course stream). I’m also thinking about more one-on-one conversations with you, more structure to the periodic check-ins we’ve done. Those of you who sought my help. (As I tweeted last week, getting better at drawing lines between letting you all self-select for help from me, and asking you to sit down to talk through your work.)
Obviously, I didn’t figure out how to manage a blog space with y’all. Again, part of the issue is the line between posting (pushing conversation forward) and inviting you to post (allowing you all to develop the focus of the space). In retrospect, I should have written more. I have the least amount of ideas about this, but the most time to figure it out. Here’s another place that a more individualized curation model might help in the future: asking teams nurture conversations over specific time or topics frameworks. I’m mindful of workload, but have had tremendous success in the past, so I’m hoping to hear from you all here too.
Finally, one more reminder that I hope you will take the time to complete a course evaluation before the end of the semester. I’m sure you’re getting the emails and you know how important these are, even though they can be flawed instruments. I thank you in advance for taking a few minutes to give me some helpful feedback there, and I invite you to share your thoughts below as well. I’m particularly interested in hearing your thoughts on the course assignments—their highlights for you and the ways I can make them more successful in the future.